Showcase of the Immortals
Well, just over a month ago I went to the greatest show on earth. Even though that phrase is trademarked by a circus, that's not what I'm referencing. I went to the REAL greatest show on earth. The Showcase of the Immortals. That phrase is trademaked also. And that's what I'm referencing. Yes, that's right:
I'm so happy! They actually thought that wrestling fans are smart enough to be able to decipher roman numerals! Last year it was called WrestleMania X8, and Wrestlemania X7 before that. And the year before that they didn't even bother; it was just WrestleMania 2000. Everything that year was something-2000.
Anyway. This year WWE decided the hold WrestleMania in Seattle at the illustrious SafeCo Field. Last year they did a couple of shows in Seattle and apparently were very impressed by crowd reactions so decided to hold the grandaddy of them all here as well. I figure this probably won't happen again for, oh, say 30 or 40 more years, so I had better take advantage of the situationdamn the $70 tickets! Full speed ahead!
TicketMaster was doing some lame-ass promotion where you could get tickets early, and somehow Neighbor Gary got wind of this and so we got three tickets; one for me, one for him, and one for my sister. As the time drew near, though, someone else got my sister even better seats (on the floor), so my brother bought her ticket and went with us instead. In fact, he drove. In order to commemorate the drive, in the car we listened to the inimitable and infamous album Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot Band. You have not lived until you've heard Hulk Hogan in the song Beach Patrol say, "Whoop, there it is." Until you hear that I don't care what you've accomplished. You may have won a Nobel Prize, but you're still a foetus in my eyes. I love to rhyme.
Now, for those of you who don't know (and shame, SHAME upon ye), WrestleMania is to professional wrestling as the Superbowl is to complete idiots. I mean professional footbal. It's where a whole year of storylines are supposed to come to a head, where you get longer, more intensive matches, where people pull out all the stops, where you get four hours of fun crammed down your throats until you can't breathe. WrestleMania.
But before WrestleMania you get some preshow stuff. One of the 'rasslers right now, John Cena, has a very funny Vanilla Ice type of gimmick where he's a white rapper who talks about "thugonomics" and says "word" a lot, and thinks that he's the shiznit. The main difference is that this guy is a really talented lyricist, so his crappy white-boy raps are really, really funny and clever. Anyway, he had issued some sort of a rap-off challenge during the month leading up to 'Mania, adn so the WWE was gonna bring in some real hip-hop star to put Cena in his place. The first one they were gonna bring had some sort of a breakdown and withdrew. The second one got arrested on weapons charges. So Cena came out before 'Mania with two cardboard cutouts of his supposed opponents and ripped them each a new one with his lyrics. Very, very funny. Well, I can only assume it was funny, because it brought up a very interesting fact about SafeCo Field:
The Sound System SUCKS
We could only make out every third word or less of what Cena was doing, but those were pretty funny words. A lot of cussing. So I can only assume that the whole performance was just as funny.
We were also treated to a tag match that pitted Rob Van Dam and Kane against the World Tag Champions, Chief Morely and Lance Storm. The champions won. Anyway, now onto the show.
No, not quite yet. First Ashanti, who most of you probably know as playing the very cute girl who went on a date with Xander earlier in this season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (well, that's what I know her best from) came out to sing America the Beautiful.
Then there were fireworks. Oh, the fireworks
The fireworks at this WrestleMania were pretty damned spectacular, including walls of various-colored fire shooting up out of the ground in rapid succession, explosions folling trails along the upper balconies, and lots of really cool shiznit. They had to crack the ceiling of SafeCo Field (it has a retractable ceiling) in order to let all the smoke out. Okay, NOW we can begin:
Oh, just a quick note before we really begin. Last time I wrote about wrestling, I made kind of a glossary of technical terms. This time I'm too lazy, so if you're confused by some of the words I use, just look at that that article.
Here we have two of the more entertaining stars right now. Hardy is the Cruiserweight (defined as weighing 220 or less) Champion. Mysterio wants to be champion (he only weighs like 175). So they fought. Mysterio is one of the more athletic superstars. He's what's called a "high flyer" or in Mexico a "luchador." He tends to do a lot of jumping and flipipng and bouncing and rolling and cool stuff like that. Here, look at this picture and realize that Hardy is an even six feet tall, and that mysterio is only like 5'5":
So it was a pretty fun match to watch, but it was a little too short. Matt Hardy actually won it, which gives him a little bit more credibility as the Champ, since Mysterio is practically unbeatable among cruiserweights (see the above photo again).
Ugh. Here we have the four tallest, biggest, and therefore slowest guys all involved in a match. Fortunately Nathan Jones, who's biggest claim to fame is spending ten years in prison in Austrailia, was "beaten up" before the match, so Undertaker had to take on the other two all by himslef. 'Taker really, really carreid this match all on his own. Big Show and A-Train kind of lumbered around like expected, leaving Taker to do all the real work and make the match somehow exciting. He actually did a pretty good job. Nathan Jones ran out towards the end to kick Big Show in the face, allowing Taker to use his most homeoerotic finisher:
This was actually pretty good. Victoria and Jazz are actually real wrestlers, and although Trish is just a (supposedly) pretty face and hot body, she's been steadily improving over the year as a wrestler. Unfortunately for everyone invovled, she won the Women's Championship, proving yet again that WWE values women solely for the booty, not for the talent.
As can be pretty much expected in a match with this many people, at times it just turned into a chaotic clusterfuck. They didn't have really enough time to let a good story evolve, so there were just a series of "spots" and saves and false finishes before finally Team Angle won. Here's a picture of them coming down the ramp before the match. I like it 'cause it shows the neat-o stage behind them.
And here's Rhyno delivering his finishing move, the "gore" to Charlie Haas of Team Angle. I like Rhyno.
This ended up being BY FAR the best match of the night. These two had a really good feud going into the show, and it all kind of came to a head really well. HBK (HeartBreak Kid) is the older, established, face veteran. Jericho is the heel younger man who throughout most of his carrer has actually been called "the next HBK." This was his chance to stick it to the man who's shadow he's been in for years. In the weeks leading up to their match, Jericho had shown footage of both of them during their younger days, how Jericho used to imitate HBK and emulate him. But then Jericho decided he didn't want to be the next HBK. He wanted to be the first Chris Jericho. But as long as he was stuck in HBK's shadow, he would never be given the acclaim he deserves. So his goal in this match was not only to beat HBK, but to end his career.
HBK came out with his flame kind of high, shooting a confetti cannon at the crowd whilst wearing his most ridiculous costume.
The Match itself was off the hook, or off the "heezy beezy" if you prefer. I know I do. Each one of them pulled out all their signature moves, and since they're both kind of flyers, the match was extraordinarily exciting. They also put a whole lot of emotion into everything they did, so it was really easy to get very invovled in the story they were telling in the ring. In the end HBK actually won, which I thought was very strange. HBK is towards the end of his career, and Jericho is just reaching the middle. It would have made more sense to have Jericho go over HBK, and have HBK kind of "pass the torch" to him. Jericho certainly deserves it, especially after a fantastic performance like this match.
Wrestling was, unfortunately, not all that went on at WrestleMania. There were a few other segments, or as I call them, bathroom breaks. First of all there were two songs performed by this dickweed:
I've never been more thankful that SafeCo Field has a sucky sound system.
Then there were those Miller Light Catfight Girls. You know them, right? Well, then you're one up on me. Not being someone who watches sports, I generally see very few beer commercials. The don't show very many during soap operas or Iron Chef or Samurai Jack or Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. I'd only ever heard of them. They had the world's crappiest-assed pillow fight evah.
Sigh. HHH defeated Booker T. Dumbass, dumbass, dumbass. That's all I got to say.
To make myself feel better, here is a nice pic of Tazz and Michael cole, the SmackDown! commentary team:
Vince McMahon is the evil owner of the WWE. Hulk Hogan is of course Hulk Hogan. Vince is tired of Hogan getting all the fame and glory and wants to end Hogan's career. If Hogan loses, he has to retire. Hogan is tired of 20 years of being abused by his boss and wants to live out the real American Dream: kicking the shit out of upper management.
Both of these men are around 50 years old so it might come as a surprise to learn that this was the 2nd-best match of the night. You'd think that this would be just two old men doddering around the ring. But actually very little of the action took place in the ring.
Yes, that's right. That pic up above shows Vince McMahon, the owner of the company getting bashed in the head with a steel folding chair. But that was nothing compared to what came next. The photo here isn't very clear:
But what it shows is Vince McMahon perched on top of a ladder. Hogan was knocked out onto the Spanish annoucers' table. Vince set up a ladder and climbed to the top of it. The owner of the company then jumped off the ladder onto Hogan, completely smashing both of them through the table. At this point the crowd started chanting "Ho-ly shit! Ho-ly shit!" They were not wrong, my friends. That was pretty darned spectacular.
These two old men worked their asses off. I mean they really gave it their all. They actually beat the shit out of each other. For our entertainment. This match provided the single best image of the whole night:
In case I haven't made this clear, that is Vince McMahon, the owner of the damned company. That blood is REAL. That blood is HIS.
But the match didn't even stop here. There was one great big surprise:
Who's that fat man in a kilt, you ask? Why none other than Rowdy Roddy Piper, perhaps best known as having the most pointless fight scene in motion picture history in the John carpenter stinkfest They Live (a 20-minute fight scene that happens because someone refuses to put on a pair of sunglasses. You heard me). Piper hadn't been seen in WWE for many, many years. I think like eight or nine or something like that. And here he showed up out of nowhere, gut hanging out, and bashed Hulk Hogan in the head with a lead pipe. Did I mention previously that Vince and Hulk didn't hold anythign back? Just look at this:
After nearly a half hour of raw, brutal, and very enjoyable violence, Hogan delivered his finisher, the "atomic leg drop," to Vince not once, not twice, but three times before pinning him.
This is the third time these two icons fought at a WrestleMania. Austin won the first two. Rock was looking to finally put him in his place this time out.
This was another really good match, it was just unfortunate it came after that ga-ga mindblowing Vince/Hogan affair. In a match with no interference and basically no cheating, the Rock finally was able to come out on top after some five years of feuding between these two.
It was probably the least of thier three historic meetings, but it was still a great thing to see in person. We would later learn that Austin was wrestling with a severely damaged neck, and that this will most likely be his last match. It wasn't exactly a terrible way to retire from the ring to go out at the hands of your biggest foe in a straight match like this.
This is kind of the match that people had been waiting all year for. Both these men have extensive amateur wrestling backgrounds. Brock is a former NCAA champ. Kurt Angle is an Olympic gold medalist. Brock is the unstoppable face powerhouse. Angle is the unbeatable heel mat technician. Angle wound up with the title through some devious backstabbing by Brock's former manager, Paul Heyman. After almost five months, Brock had a chance to get his title back.
Unfortunatley Angle went into this match with a serious neck injury, and he tore something in his leg like right after the match began. Because of that you could kind of tell that the two were holding back a little bit. This match seemed kind of like a prelude to thier REAL match, which will happen down the road (once Angle recovers from surgery).
This match has the unfortunate honor of supplying the scariest moment of the night, when Brock attempted to do a high-flying maneuver, the "shooting star press."
Yes, that's right, he landed on his face. A very famous wrestler in Japan broke his neck doing this move once. Fortunately Brock only suffered a concussion. He was actually able to get up, deliver a different finisher to Angle (the "F5"his more common finisher), and pin him to win the championship. As you can tell by this next pic, though, I don't think he even realized what he had done when the match was over:
And there you have it. Was going to WrestleMania worth the $70? I think so. Jericho/HBK and Vince/Hogan were worth the price of admission on thier own. Who would have ever thought that I would actually get to see Hulk Hogan wrestle live?